Exterior Motives: Indoor/Outdoor Design Trends

May 19, 2011 by

Diallo Design’s Segou Rocker weaves beautiful color into outdoor seating.

What’s drawing people outdoors these days? Perhaps it’s rise of the “staycation,” originally driven by the economic down turn, or the increasing number of individuals telecommuting from home, that has resulted in people investing more in creating outdoor living areas that extend the boundaries of their indoor spaces. Whether it’s a need for respite from our virtual worlds or just a desire for time outdoors, it’s no surprise that taking the indoors outside is becoming a bigger and bigger trend. People are creating outdoor spaces that function much like their indoor rooms. The outdoor living room has become a stylish place for lounging, dining, and entertaining, and even working.

Hanging out in the garden: Fatboy’s new Rockcoco, an outdoor-proof chandelier, is a contemporary take on the Louis XV style.

According to the 2011 American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Residential Trends Survey, today’s homeowners want function, efficiency and…fire pits in their outdoor space.

Seating, heating and cooking all in one: AK47’s Rondo Fire Pit doubles as seating and also accommodates an optional barbecue grill.

Apparently people just desire some of the same basic living features they have indoors: light, fire, food, and a place to sit and enjoy it all. “Despite the economic climate, homeowners continue to reconnect with their outdoor space,” says ASLA Executive Vice President and CEO Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA.

New Twists on Tradition: The Pasha Chair by Italian company, Pedrali, blends tradition, innovation, and classical style in modern polycarbonate.

What’s Trending Outside
If what I witnessed at last weekend’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair is any indication, some of this year’s trends are:
• Wovens, either from natural or synthetic materials.
• Pieces that multitask by performing more than one function.
• Modular pieces that can be placed in numerous arrangements offering flexibility for small spaces as well as choice for those of us who like to change our minds!

Brooklyn designer Susan Woods’s Aswoon line of woven furniture made its debut at ICFF.

B&B Italia’s “Reel” made of woven polyethylene threads or natural fiber and strung like a ball.

Weaving Our Way Out
Woven furniture, especially colorful pieces, many constructed of sustainable materials, offer accent bursts of color for neutral palettes and can also contribute to creating an eclectic mix of the traditional and the contemporary.

Driade’s Pavo Real Poltrona Chair, designed by Patricia Urquiola adds some punch to any setting.

Double Agent Designs
Many of us are taking the multi-tasking from our offices into our gardens. Multipurpose furniture like chairs that do double duty as lighting are becoming popular. Black & Blum’s Hot Pot, a combination herb pot and grill which we featured in an earlier post, is a good example of one piece that replaces two. The blended interest in gardening and lounging is expressed in furniture incorporating planters, giving “plant yourself down” new meaning!

Illuminating evenings outdoors with Domitalia’s Phantom2 collection. They can be ordered with battery packs, eliminating the need for cords.

The Hammy, a combo hammock, planter, and bench from Plywood Office, was unveiled at the Model Citizens show at the Chelsea Art Museum last week.

Snowpeak’s new Itauba hardwood and stainless steel Garden Series brings traditional Japanese style cooking to the modern patio.

Go Configure!
Modular pieces offer the possibility of many different seating configurations using a few select pieces whose arrangement can be changed depending on use. Consider investing in high quality, well designed modular furniture that will enable you to use it many different ways–fewer pieces, more options.

Kannoa’s Tangier modular collection works like building blocks–you arrange them as needed: build a curvaceous seating area or even a bed.

Throwing Some Curves
Some new seating and containers borrow from nature incorporating into their designs the organic, sensual curves of ocean waves and rolling hills.

Laurie Beckerman’s curvy Corian rocker allows for an outdoor tête-a-tête.

Fluid lines of Collaboration’s PL series of lightweight fiberglass or concrete planters.


  1. Sheila said:

    Great post. I love the way the Itauba hardwood and stainless steel set seems to meld with the surroundings. The modern pieces you featured are gorgeous too, but I’m definitely a purist when it comes to outdoor pieces–I want them to feel like part of the environment.

    — May 19, 2011 @ 19:19

  2. Barbara said:

    Outdoor pieces must do so much than indoor! Very creative. I WANT that first blue chair!

    — May 20, 2011 @ 07:57

  3. lucy schwartz said:

    Everything is great. send me more.

    — May 21, 2011 @ 21:31

  4. Outdoor Greatroom Co. said:

    Great Article! Retweeted by @outdoorrooms

    — May 25, 2011 @ 13:28

  5. Mimi Lil said:

    Beautiful. Eye catching. Original and creative.
    Is it priceless?…….

    — June 14, 2011 @ 16:27

  6. Outdoor Chandelier From Recycled Milk Containers | Urban Gardens Pingback said:

    […] Light? Brooklyn designer, Alexander Reh, creates this outdoor chandelier which he calls Milky Way, from 14 recycled plastic milk gallon containers attached to a hula hoop […]

    — August 5, 2011 @ 11:55

  7. haho said:

    “The cramped, dark, dreary garage is a thing of the past. Today�s garages are larger and better equipped, so much so that they become living spaces in their own right. They not only house the car but also provide abundant and practical storage space for yard tools and seasonal equipment. Higher-end homes often have two garages, one for the car and the other to store sports, leisure and home maintenance gear.

    Such spaces are designed to be both functional and decorative. Floor coverings, paint colours and storage systems are all carefully selected. Because considerable time is spent here, especially in the workshop, it�s essential to have a good source of light. It’s also important to include proper ventilation and an efficient heating system for added comfort.

    The garage and shed exteriors should blend with the style and design of the house. Planting attractive flower borders around these buildings will increase curb appeal.
    The outdoor kitchen – hi-tech and fully equipped
    This year�s must-have is an outdoor kitchen worthy of the greatest chefs. We�ve come a long way from the days of the lone charcoal barbecue in the corner of the backyard. The trend is now to recreate an entire outdoor cooking area with high-quality equipment.

    No outdoor cooking station would be complete without the most basic element, the barbecue grill. Grills are increasingly upmarket and durable. They come with burners, warming racks, storage areas and even a fridge. For the ultimate stylish look and additional work space, build the barbecue into an outdoor island. If you entertain a lot, you can even install a separate refrigerator to keep cold drinks handy.”

    — October 10, 2011 @ 04:35

  8. dich vu seo said:

    Future trends, continued Lea Aviliani Aziz,the interior designer, eclectic concept will replace the minimalist. This concept will make the atmosphere comfortable and the room becomes more dynamic.

    — March 4, 2012 @ 21:23

  9. Outdoor Bench, Hammock, and Swing for Balcony or Garden | Urban Gardens Pingback said:

    […] recline, or even swing in designer Emanuele Magini’s Siesta bench […]

    — June 28, 2012 @ 11:18

  10. Design Pingback said:

    […] The Outdoor Stylist, MoCo Loco, Urban Gardens, Escea, […]

    — April 25, 2013 @ 20:01

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